Productivity Toolbox: 37+ Tools for Taking Action and Getting Things Done

SmallFuel Productivity Toolbox

Last week we talked about how taking action is the first priority of a small business (or just about anything). This week it’s time to go beyond talk and start getting things done.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of the best resources and tools available for taking action, getting things done, and generally being productive.

Project and Task Management Tools

ActionThis is a web-based service for managing projects and tasks and making sure they get finished. They use your everyday tools to help you get stuff done and go home early. Really nice interface and an elegantly-simple “Plan it, Do it, Improve” methodology.
Actionize is a nearly complete system of small business tools. They have a project manager, task manager, calendar, and contact manager. Even more than others, Actionize can help with CRM and business communications in general.
Basecamp is the project management and collaboration tool from the well-known 37signals. It is an excellent system that I think is both simple and flexible. It’s generally just very good, and I recommend it to anyone in small business.
Clarizen is a project management system design with the goal of “Making Projects Real.” They have a decidedly big-business feel, but are priced well within reach of most small businesses.

Productivity Blogs and Websites

Zen Habits
Zen Habits is a blog about achieving goals, being productive, being organized, getting things done, and forming useful habits. It is written by the moderately famous (in the blogosphere) Leo Babauta. This is one of my personal favorite blogs. is a relatively unknown blog written by a few different people who are interested in productivity and getting things done. The writing is high quality, and the tips are always useful.
Lifehacker is a well known blog that writes about working smarter and living more productively. It has a decidedly techy spin, so make sure you like technology before delving into this one.
43 Folders is a website by Merlin Mann about personal productivity, time management, life hacks, and simple ways to make your life a little better. His site has a blog, forums, and a very active job board. (not the same as is a daily digest of productivity pointers, tips for getting things done, and useful life hacks. This blog is a great read for anyone looking to get more done.

Productivity and Execution Books

Getting Things Done for Small BusinessGetting Things Done
The book that started the revolution. Getting Things Done is the most famous resource about completing your tasks and checking things off of your to-do list. Written by the now-famous David Allen, it is a must read if you haven’t already.

imageThe 4 Hour Work Week
Another revolutionary book, The 4 Hour Work Week focuses on outsourcing and having people complete things for you. Why is this on a productivity and taking action list? Because having other people do your work has the same result in the end, and it can be a life saver.

Self-Discipline in 10 Days
At the core of taking action and getting things done lies self-discipline. This book is a great resource for those looking to learn more.

The Now Habit
Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. This book offers a strategic program for overcoming procrastination.

Getting Things Done Tools

Vitalist is an awesome web application designed to help organize actions and projects online. They use David Allen’s GTD system to create what a lot of people are saying is the best way to keep organized online. I’m pretty close to agreeing with them.
Simple GTD is another web application built around David Allen’s GTD system. They are completely free, and offer a simple way to organize your stuff online.
Thinking rock is another free application for organizing your thoughts with the GTD methodology. This one is a desktop based program.
Nozbe is another tool for tracking to-do’s, projects, and next actions. It loosely follows the GTD methodology, and offers a very clean web-based interface.
GTD Gmail
GTD Gmail is a really interesting FireFox extension that helps turn your Gmail account into a GTD tool. You’ll have to check it out on your own—there really isn’t much more to add.

To-Do and Task List Tools

Remember the Milk
Remember the milks is a really cool to-do list web-app with a perfect name. Never forget the milk
(or anything else) again. 

Ta-Da List
Ta-Da list is 37signals simple to-do list manager. It has great functionality, a simple interface, and everything you’d expect from 37signals. And it’s completely free too : )
MyToDos is another simple and free web application for taking care of your to-do lists and tasks.
Todoist is an online task and to-do manager that’s pretty darn easy to use and has a nice interface to boot. Can’t beat it for free.
Tudumo is a small and downloadable program that helps you manage to-do’s and other tasks. It can handle the GTD system as well.

Time Tracking and Management

Harvest Time Management
Harvest is the self-proclaimed world’s best time tracking software, and I wouldn’t say that’s far off. Time is money, and it’s crucial for a business to know how its employees (and owners) are spending their time. Harvest is designed and built for small businesses.
MeeTimer is probably the most useful FireFox extension I’ve ever seen. It tracks how much you browse the web for work, and how much you’re goofing-off (you can specify which sites count as work).  This will either seriously depress you or increase your productivity ten-fold.
SlimTimer made the list because of their slogan&mdashMake love not timesheets. Other than that, it’s a simple web-based time tracker. Create tasks, time your work, run reports.
ClockingIt is a free web application that will keep track of your tasks and the time you spend on them. It’s really well designed, and fully featured, considering it is available for free.
Free online time tracking, not much more, not much less.

Calendars and Scheduling

Calendar Hub
A well designed web based calendar that you can use privately, with a group, or even publish to a website. It looks a lot like Google Calendar, but it definitely has some unique benefits. I specifically like that they make it easy for you to publish on other sites like a blog or company homepage.

Google Calendar
The ten-thousand pound gorilla happens to have a really nice calendar application. In Google’s typical style, it is well designed with a clean and very usable interface. The crown jewel is complete interactivity with Gmail and other Google apps.

Acuity Scheduling
Acuity Scheduling is a neat web application that lets your clients or customers schedule appointments with you online. It can even handle the billing aspect as well—with complete PayPal integration. If you rely on scheduled appointments for business, you should really check this out.
Jotlet is just like any other web based calendar with one exception; they allow you to customize the calendar with your company logo and branding. You can even integrate it into your own website.

Planning and Goal Setting

PlanHQ is a beautiful web application that helps companies manage and update a business plan. It is designed for start-up teams that are constantly creating and updating goals, and they even include some task management to help you reach those goals.
Startup Business School is a great resource for new small businesses (old ones too, I suppose) who need help writing a business plan and defining goals and targets. They have an easy to use system that asks you questions and outputs a completed plan at the end.
Joe’s Goals is a free online habit tracker, meaning they can keep track of how often you meet or break your goals. This website is great for repetitive tasks that can be monitored over time.


world of inspiration
World of Inspiration is a site that’s 100% focused on inspirational quotes. Their layout is very clean and really showcases each day’s new quote. You can get quotes via RSS or email too.

20 Motivational Hacks from
This is a specific post from Leo Babuata of Zenhabits on 20 different ways to keep yourself motivated. It’s an excellent post and a recommended read for all.
Pick the brain is a blog about general self improvement, and they have an excellent section on motivation.

That’s all folks… for this list at least. I’m sure there are dozens of other great productivity tools out there just waiting to be discovered, but frankly I’ve spent a huge amount of time on this already : )

Feel free to drop a link in the comments if you know of any other good small business productivity resources you recommend.

Reader Comments

Nov. 14. 2007 4:18 AM

Mason! This is so cool! Some day (and today is sadly not that day) I’ll get it together to go through all of these in the detail they obviously deserve. Maybe with a productivity tool or two I’ll be productive enough to make time to read about… productivity tools. :)

Great job - GTD completely changed my life.

Nov. 14. 2007 11:23 AM

Wow!  This is an amazing list… You’ve influenced me greatly… I’ve already put a book in my shopping cart and have other tabs open with tools to explore further.  This is a wonderfully comprehensive and relevant list!

Nov. 14. 2007 11:57 AM

Hey Naomi and Christine,

Thanks for the compliments, it makes all the time I spent doing this worthwhile.

It is a really big list, I can’t really imagine going through each one of these in a row very quickly—I figured people would probably skip here and there and find something that sounded good.

Good luck being productive : )

Nov. 14. 2007 1:14 PM

Also, just by coincidence, I found and started using Toggl last week - what an awesome tool!!!  I haven’t found any other time tracking tool that is as simple and effective as this one…

Nov. 14. 2007 2:57 PM

great list of productivity tools.  I had heard of a few of these including the 4 hour workweek.  But this is a nice refresher.

Nov. 14. 2007 10:39 PM

Mason-I would add to your site. GREAT online office management software with FREE accounting software.

Nov. 15. 2007 1:03 AM

Also have a look at ActionThis - at Its focus is on execution, and ensuring projects and tasks are completed and that teams work effectively together. It’s a web 2.0 application that also integrates with Microsoft Outlook, providing seamless access to ActionThis action items alongside email messages.

Nov. 15. 2007 2:42 AM

Christine —Toggl is definitely cool, and it’s free too. Hard to beat…

Matt — Yea I definatily agree that this list is a good refresher. I can guarantee that I’ll even be checking back to it in the future. By the way, I love your website’s left navigation bar, very cool.

Shama — You’ve mentioned WinWeb before, I’ll have to go and look more into it.It’s a shame they don’t have a public demo, but I guess I’ll sign up for the trial.

Tim — Check out the first entry on the list, you’re there : ) I have to say I love your app, and the website design is just gorgeous. Thanks for stopping by.

Nov. 15. 2007 7:24 AM

I’m a huge GTD fan and I’m simply mad about organizing everything. It’s great that you’ve mentioned all those tools, I’ll probably check out a couple of them. What I’m using for my GTD now is Wrike. It’s actually kind of weird you haven’t mentioned it. They propose a bit different way of practicing GTD, but it is actually a lot easier, than the original one. Check out for yourself

Nov. 15. 2007 4:15 PM

Wow, great list!  There are so many tools out there it is hard to keep up with them all.  My GTD tool of choice so far has been

Nov. 15. 2007 10:36 PM

You should considering adding calgoo.  ive been using it with google calendar in order to take it offline and sync it up with my outlook at work.  its got some kinks but all in all it does the trick.


Nov. 15. 2007 10:48 PM

There are many good tools on your list. But i have a bad feeling about putting my company related data on a foreign server. I’m searching for a web-based project managment software which allows you to use it on your own server. Does anybody knows something like that?

Nov. 19. 2007 10:45 AM

Wow, I think this is the first time someone has recommended both GTDInbox and MeeTimer in the same article - very flattered - thank you!
You know that both GTDInbox and MeeTimer are due updates? If you have any input, do not hesitate to drop me an email (

Nov. 19. 2007 3:27 PM

@Paul - I did check it out and it looks pretty interesting. I’d have included it on the list if I saw it before publishing. It’ll be there for the update.

@Lauren - Onstage looks pretty good. As a user, why do you think they’re better than some of the others?

@Steve - I’ve been looking for something like Calgoo - syncing calendars is a big pain in the rear. Thanks for the recommend.

@Alp - Check out some of the open source project managers, like dotproject, task juggler, or open workbench. ActiveCollab is a good one that isn’t open source but you host it on your own servers.

@Andy - they are both excellent products and are worthy of the mention : ) I’ll be sure to send you any suggestions I can think of. Thanks for stopping by.

Nov. 19. 2007 4:01 PM

Thanks alot, i’ll dig into it and test them.

Nov. 19. 2007 7:25 PM

At my company we use Intervals, which is not on the list but nevertheless a fantastic tool. It’s web-hosted.
You can find out more about it at:

Nov. 26. 2007 2:35 PM

@Mason - I like OnStage because of customer service.  They are very helpful and always happy to talk to us users. Unfortunately, that seems to be a foreign concept to many (not all) “web 2.0” companies.  Functionality-wise, I would say they are on par with the other GTD tools.

Dec. 3. 2007 6:26 PM

Also check out RallyClock, for non-obtrusive time tracking over the web and IM.

Dec. 7. 2007 8:43 AM

Hey Mason! Thanks for the great list. Now I have more than enough alternatives for every productivity needs. In fact enough to spend many unproductive hours going through and testing all of them. :)

You have a great blog here, and now you also have one more subscriber. Way to go!

Dec. 7. 2007 12:39 PM

Then list is good, but definetely incomplete. My favoutive is Wrike, I’ve not noticed it on the list. Wrike creator support the GTD idea and offer to practice it in a slightly different way. It is even easier and more effective than the original GTD

Dec. 26. 2007 3:03 PM

I’m using this GTD free tool at it’s easy, fast and reliable. Not beautiful, nut practical and usable. Give it a try

Jan. 5. 2008 6:47 PM

Hey, nice online tools. Do you mind if I mention my web accounts organizing tool, Butterfly Organizer? Maybe if you test it and the feedback is positive, you might include it in this list.

Thanks for the great resources. I will check some of them in my quest of becoming the most productive blogger :)

Jan. 6. 2008 5:00 PM


First of all, my congratulations for such a useful post. It’s amazing the way you organized this hughe list.

Now, I’m thinking about translating this post into spanish for my blog
mentioning its author, of course.

I think people here in Spain must know about your working.

Anyway, you have a reader in me.

Jan. 8. 2008 9:33 PM

This good!

Feb. 7. 2008 10:00 PM

How about this advice: disconnect the internet and actually do some work!

Feb. 8. 2008 9:29 AM

Thank you.  This is a brilliant resource to help those wanting to increase productivity.  I’ve reviewed it on Stumble Upon.

Nov. 28. 2009 3:43 AM

HourDoc is tool for Time Tracking. is right treatment for time and labor management processes has to be an easy-to-administer and affordable solution for Freelancers, supervisors, employees and HR and payroll managers. They offer free application to companies less than 50 employees. You must Try it!

Nov. 28. 2009 3:44 AM

HourDoc is tool for Time Tracking. is right treatment for time and labor management processes has to be an easy-to-administer and affordable solution for Freelancers, supervisors, employees and HR and payroll managers. They offer free application to companies less than 50 employees. You must Try it!

Dec. 30. 2009 4:50 AM

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Jan. 28. 2010 8:14 AM

Your post is very interesting, I start to try some programs but too much software and link ... In Italy we say: “too much is the start of the confusion”.

It’s impossible to choice what is good for you.

Anyway thanks a lot for your indication

Feb. 5. 2010 9:36 PM

May I also suggest, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

Feb. 8. 2010 9:28 PM


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Apr. 7. 2010 5:09 PM

I would like to add a time tracking software app that is so powerful and easy to use. is inexpensive for start-ups and helps get the business organized. I use it myself and it’s awesome!

Jul. 3. 2010 8:06 AM

I’ve just discovered this list. It’s a great collection of productivity tools and advice. Excellent! Just what the business coach needed.

Jul. 29. 2010 9:46 AM

This is a great list.

I can also recommend a fantastic productivity/execution book by Mark Forster called “Do It Tomorrow”.

Personal and workplace productivity is a real passion of mine and that’s why I built to help people and businesses be successful.

We found that other solutions out there just encourage you to make really long lists, without thinking about what you should and should not be putting on that list or whether they were important or not.

Teamly is a new kind of productivity tool that helps you move beyond your mile-long to-do list and focus on the truly important stuff—your top 5 priorities for the day, week and month.

If you are looking for a better way to organise yourself or your staff, please give Teamly a try.

Aug. 24. 2010 11:48 AM

This is a great list - nice online tools.

Nov. 13. 2010 1:06 AM

superb list shared thanks ... i really liked the way u simplify the the things in ur blogs :)

Feb. 18. 2011 8:21 AM

What an amazing list, Mason! They will surely make my work much easier and more productive now. Can’t wait to try them out! :)

Feb. 28. 2011 7:54 AM

It’s a long list you got going on there for sure.

Thought you might like to add one more to the Project and Task Management Tools list.
Our service :-)

Mar. 11. 2011 5:10 AM

Great list, well done!

Jul. 4. 2011 11:10 AM

Also, just by coincidence, I found and started using Toggl last week - what an awesome tool!!!  I haven’t found any other time tracking tool that is as simple and effective as this one…

Jul. 7. 2011 4:09 AM

This is a wonderfully comprehensive and relevant list!

Sep. 13. 2011 6:01 AM

Hi Mason, surely you have spent a lot of time in finding these tools. I‘ve heard about Basecamp and Toggl but will try others as well. Though, I would also recommend the Replicon Time tracking software. Take a look and am sure that it will be there in your next list.

May. 26. 2012 2:41 AM

Awesome list buddy! I’ve been using Time Doctor for my ubuntu. I thought it was the only tool. But this post tells us many more. Keep going

Jul. 3. 2012 1:56 AM

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Oct. 12. 2012 6:39 AM

thank article has been successful in

Dec. 29. 2012 11:56 AM

I really admire your writing; your all blog posts are unique and informative. The 37 tools you listed are really awesome and helpful. Just want to add one more tool i.e It’s a time management tool for professionals looking for simple, affordable, web-based way of managing their business.

Apr. 16. 2013 2:42 AM

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May. 17. 2013 6:48 AM

Thanks for these website suggestions but which ones are free?

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Jul. 9. 2013 5:01 AM

Glad to have found of sites like these here. Are they free? read here

Jul. 15. 2013 10:11 AM

I should really find one to help me out. Thanks for sharing this list and making choosing a bit easier.

Jul. 16. 2013 5:55 AM

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Aug. 9. 2013 3:05 AM

I could improve my time tracking workflow using Timeneye ( I am a Basecamp user (suggested!) and with Timeneye I can track time directly from there, commenting on to-dos with the time I spent on them - everything gets automatically synced and tracked to Timeneye.
I think it’s a nice effort on trying to avoid you lose time tracking your own time.

Jan. 31. 2014 7:32 AM

Great post. You should also take a look at TimeSheet Reporter.

Jan. 31. 2014 7:34 AM

Absolutely, I’d recommend TSR TSR - Tidsregistrering i Outlook.

Mar. 12. 2014 9:54 PM

Thank you.  This is a brilliant resource to help those wanting to increase productivity.<a href=“”>Discount Office 2013<>

Mar. 12. 2014 9:56 PM

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Mar. 12. 2014 9:58 PM

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Mar. 17. 2014 5:31 AM

Thanks for a great post. You should also have TimeSheet Reporter (Outlook time tracking) on this list

Apr. 5. 2014 3:19 PM

Hey, I must say this cool list of productivity tools online.  I had heard of a few of these. I really like your handwork in resetting.

Apr. 11. 2014 3:46 AM

Hey Thank you.  This is a cool resource to help those wanting to increase productivity.  I’ve reviewed it on Stumble Upon. keep sharing and updating buddy.

Apr. 11. 2014 4:33 AM

yes, I’ve just discovered this list. It’s a great collection of imp. tools and advice. Excellent! Keep writing articles like this. I am your fan.

May. 25. 2014 4:04 AM

yeah…, I’ve just discovered this list. It’s a great collection of imp. tools and advice. Excellent! Keep writing articles like this. I am your fan.

May. 26. 2014 4:44 PM

Great post. You should also take a look at rbse

Jun. 10. 2014 6:28 AM

Jun. 24. 2014 6:37 AM

Great list of productivity tools. Here’s another tool that could be added to your list, its called Taskworld.

Jun. 24. 2014 8:26 AM

web-based service for managing projects and tasks and making sure they get finished. They use your everyday tools to help you get stuff done and go home early. Really nice interface and an elegantly-simple “Plan it, Do it, Improve” methodology.

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